A federal judge on Monday threw out a former college quarterback's claim against EA Sports, regarding the use of his likeness in past versions of NCAA Football. While the ruling clears Electronic Arts in a legal sense, Samuel Keller's claims still will proceed against the NCAA and the Collegiate Licensing Company, and the outcome still could have ramifications for the popular sports video game.
Keller, a former Nebraska and Arizona State quarterback, alleged EA Sports conspired with the NCAA and CLC to force athletes to sign away the rights to their likenesses in perpetuity. Judge Claudia Wilken of US District Court for the Northern District of California, found that EA Sports had not engaged in any such conspiracy, and dismissed Keller's claim against it.
Wilken, however, did not grant the NCAA and CLC's motions to dismiss Keller's suit, which involves matters such as right to publicity and antitrust law. That case will proceed. For gamers, a ruling in Keller's favour still could alter how the rosters in NCAA Football are populated. Some potential scenarios can be read here.
The finding essentially means EA Sports didn't do anything wrong in following the terms of the licence set by the NCAA and CLC. But those who set the terms may have done so in a way that violated players' rights to the use of their likeness, in more than just video games.
Reached by Kotaku, a spokesman for Electronic Arts said that the company is pleased with the decision.
The case is Keller v Electronic Arts et al, No. C 09-1967.